'I Just Had To Get Out': How Nature Is Helping Us During The Pandemic
On this Earth Day, you may be thinking how much nature has helped you over this past year. You may not know exactly why going outside makes you feel better, but plenty of people keep doing it.
Paul Eckard has lived all over the country and world and says he has found his special place at the Cincinnati Nature Center in Milford. At the beginning of the pandemic, it had a brief shutdown for two and a half weeks. "I just had to get out in any park I could get to, just to get out, and then as soon as this reopened I was here every day," Eckard says.
Kate Albert says being outside helps her. She's a painter and can remember "hiking" trails at the Nature Center before she could walk. "That's how a lot of people heal, and I think over the last year, a lot of people have learned that's the best way to heal," she says.
Cincinnati Nature Center Membership Manager Laura Schmid has seen many people embrace nature since the pandemic began. "We had a member who came into our visitor center and brought us two plates of chocolate chip cookies with a thank you note saying, 'Thank you so much for being a resource for our community, especially this past year.' "
Education Director Connie O'Connor came prepared with a long list of health benefits. She says you don't have to go to a park. You can go outside in your backyard.
How nature helps, according to O'Connor:
- People heal faster when their hospital room looks out over a green space
- When city kids have a view of a green space, they do better on homework and tests
- Going outside increases your creativity and cognition
- Nature decreases your blood pressure, heart rate and stress level
- Digging in the dirt releases chemicals that trigger serotonin production in the brain
O'Connor says COVID helped remind people when all else is gone, nature endures.